Health Topic: Pneumococcal Disease
Pneumococcal disease is caused by a type of germ. These germs can get into your lungs and cause pneumonia. They can also get into your
brain and cause meningitis, or into your blood and cause an infection called bacteremia. The symptoms of pneumonia include fever,
cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain. The symptoms of meningitis include a stiff neck, fever, confusion, and visual sensitivity
to light. The symptoms of a blood infection may be the same as for pneumonia and meningitis, along with joint pain and chills.
This germ can be found in the nose and throat of many people. It can be spread by coughing and sneezing. It is not known how this
germ can suddenly infect the body of some people and cause a disease.
Thousands of people in the United States die each year from pneumococcal disease and has the highest death toll, which could be
prevented by vaccination. Most of these people are 65 years and older. In fact, over 51% of the deaths are in patients over the age
of 65. In 1998, over 3,400 patients over the age of 65 died from pneumonia in the United States.
Both influenza and pneumonia are a particular problem for American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN). Between 2002 and 2004, the
number of deaths from influenza and pneumonia in AI/AN people was one and a half times higher than all other races.
To lower your chances of getting pneumococcal disease, you should get the pneumococcal immunization as described below.
What is an pneumococcal immunization?
The immunization for pneumococcal disease is a shot. It is safe. It protects you from 23 different types of the germs that cause most
of the pneumococcal disease.
Who should get this immunization?
Anyone age 65 or older should get one pneumococcal shot. Also people younger than 65 who have a serious medical condition like
diabetes should get the pneumococcal shot. If you get the pneumococcal shot when you are younger than 65 years of age, you will need
to get another one when you turn 65 years old.
Some people with allergies or illness should not get the pneumococcal shot. It is best to ask your doctor if you need a
pneumococcal shot before getting one.
Why is getting a pneumococcal immunization important?
It has been shown that a pneumococcal vaccination is a low-cost way to prevent serious health problems and death in the elderly.
Getting the pneumococcal shot can stop you from getting pneumococcal disease. Thousands of people die each year because of
pneumococcal disease. This could be prevented with the pneumococcal shot.
What is the GPRA measure?
The GPRA measure is the percentage of IHS AI/AN patients ages 65 and older who have received a pneumococcal vaccination (shot) at least once in their lifetime.
How is IHS doing?
The United States long-term goal is for 90.0% of persons aged 65 years and older reported ever receiving a pneumococcal vaccination by the year 2020 (Healthy People 2020). The IHS 2012 goal was to achieve the rate of 87.5% for the proportion of adult patients age 65 years and older who receive a pneumococcal immunization. IHS exceeded the goal by reaching 88.5%. The bars on the graph below show that IHS has raised the rate from 64% in 2002 to 88.5% in 2012. However, beginning in 2010 refusals was removed from the rates. So, the 2002-2009 rates cannot be compared with the 2010-2012 rates.
View a table of this chart's data.
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To see how IHS is doing on this measure at the Area (regional) levels,